On the first Friday of October, and continuing throughout the month with various events, companies across all sectors seek to raise awareness of manufacturing, and why the field represents a viable career path. Hosted annually by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and The Manufacturing Institute, perhaps never has it been more crucial to bring employees into the fold than in 2021, when demand is high, lead times are long, and employees are staying home. Cornerstone Building Brands is hosting events throughout the month as part of an ongoing effort to showcase the importance of U.S. manufacturing and increase awareness of the career opportunities in the field. After hosting virtual-only events in 2020, the company says this year’s events will offer a number of options to ensure students and community members can experience the programs safely. Two of those are devoted specifically to doors and windows.

NAM asserts that U.S. manufacturers will need to fill four million jobs by 2030.

At the same time, manufacturing companies are being challenged on all fronts, and NAM is pushing back against scheduled and proposed tax changes that would limit tax deductions for interest on business loans and make it more difficult for manufacturers to invest in growth.

“Debt financing is critical to the manufacturing industry because it allows businesses of all sizes to invest in equipment and facilities,” NAM officials say in a press release issued this week. “These investments spur job growth and help manufacturers compete in a global marketplace. Reducing or limiting manufacturers’ ability to deduct interest will make borrowing more expensive, making it more difficult for manufacturers to support America’s economic recovery and invest in future growth.”

“These scheduled and proposed changes to interest deductibility would disproportionately impact companies in the manufacturing sector,” writes Chris Netram, NAM vice president, tax and domestic economic policy, in a letter to Congress. “Following tax reform’s passage in 2017, manufacturing capital spending grew by 4.5% and 5.7% in 2018 and 2019—but limiting the deductibility of interest would threaten the sector’s progress and harm manufacturers’ ability to invest for the future.”

Earlier this year, Thomas.net released its State of North American Manufacturing 2021 Annual Report, which revealed some positive data. For one, 83% of manufacturers indicate they are ‘likely’ to ‘extremely likely’ to reshore (up from 54% in March 2020). Additionally, if four in five U.S. manufacturers bring on one new domestic single-contract supplier, it will inject $443 billion into the U.S. economy. Diving deeper, the study found that packaging materials, metal, and hardware are the most needed products in the U.S. and Canada.

All of this equates to opportunities for manufacturing companies, according to the report. COVID-19-induced supply chain disruptions provide businesses the opportunity to look beyond cost-savings and just-in-time inventory management. North American manufacturers can also stand out by focusing on improving product availability and turnaround time across product and service categories that are experiencing a significant year-over-year increase in demand.

“It is estimated that the U.S. will need to invest $400-600 billion* in manufacturing technologies to improve the trade deficit with the largest importers, such as China,” according to the report. “It’s high time the industry increased investment in skilled labor and manufacturing technologies from both operational and technological perspectives.”

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